A woman who killed 16-month-old Star Hobson after inflicting ‘utterly catastrophic’ injuries on the toddler will be sentenced today as questions surround the response of social services following concerns raised over her safety.
Bouncer and security guard Savannah Brockhill, 28, was found guilty on Tuesday of murdering Star and has been branded as “pure evil” by the little girl’s family.
The court heard that Star endured months of assaults and psychological harm before suffering the injuries at her home in Keighley, West Yorkshire. She died in September last year.
Star’s mother Frankie Smith, 20, was cleared of murder at Bradford Crown Court, but was convicted of causing or allowing the toddler’s death.
Warning: This story contains distressing details about the treatment and subsequent death of a child.
Jurors heard that social services and police did not act despite five different family members and friends raising concerns with authorities.
The little girl’s great-grandfather, David Fawcett, described Brockhill as “just pure evil”.
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He said: “It’s disgusting because there were five referrals. Not one of them did anything.
“It’s just beyond belief, really.”
The Bradford Partnership, which includes agencies in contact with Star during her short life, said a review into the case will be published next year, and added that it “deeply regrets” that “not all the warning signs” were spotted.
Keighley and Ilkley MP Robbie Moore said Bradford Council leaders should “hang their heads in shame” and resign.
Star was taken to hospital from the flat where she lived with her mother on 22 September, 2020, but her injuries were “unsurvivable”, prosecutors told the two-month trial.
The court was told that Smith’s family and friends had growing concerns over bruising on the little girl in the months before she died.
But Brockhill and Smith were able to convince care workers the marks were accidental or that complaints were made maliciously by people who did not accept their relationship.
Prosecutors described how the injuries that caused Star’s death involved extensive damage to her abdominal cavity “caused by a severe and forceful blow or blows, either in the form of punching, stamping or kicking to the abdomen”.
The jury was also shown a series of CCTV clips – filmed at a recycling plant where Brockhill worked as a security guard, which prosecutors said showed Brockhill delivering a total of 21 blows to Star in a car over a three-hour period, including some as the toddler sat in a car seat.
Following the convictions, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “What happened to Star Hobson is shocking and heartbreaking.
“We must protect children from these barbaric crimes and ensure lessons are learned.”
Brockhill and Smith will be sentenced later by judge Mrs Justice Lambert.